People who run programs for low-income job seekers and those seeking to promote policies that can improve employment outcomes for low-income individuals need evidence about what works. But it can be challenging for program administrators and policymakers to know where to find dependable sources of evidence and determine how this evidence might apply to their programs and populations.

To provide reliable accessible information about what works to help low-income job seekers find and keep gainful employment, the Office of Planning, Research, & Evaluation (OPRE) at the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) launched The Pathways to Work Evidence Clearinghouse (originally known as the What Works Clearinghouse of Proven and Promising Approaches to Move Welfare Recipients to Work). The Pathways Clearinghouse identifies interventions that aim to improve employment outcomes, reduce employment challenges, and support self-sufficiency for low-income populations, especially Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other public program recipients. The Pathways Clearinghouse systematically evaluates and summarizes the evidence of their effectiveness. It has several goals:

  • Conduct a transparent, comprehensive search to identify studies of employment and training interventions designed to improve employment, increase earnings, support self-sufficiency, or advance education or training.
  • Rate the quality of those studies to assess the strength of the evidence they provide on the different interventions.
  • Determine the evidence of effectiveness for those interventions.
  • Share the results, as well as other Clearinghouse products, on a user-friendly website to help state and local TANF administrators, policymakers, researchers and the general public make sense of the results and better understand how this evidence might apply to questions and contexts that matter to them.
  • Synthesize the overall state of evidence in the field by creating and disseminating synthesis reports.

The Pathways Clearinghouse builds on the work of OPRE's Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Review (ESER), by including newer and wider reaching research and assessing the effectiveness of the interventions reviewed. The Pathways Clearinghouse will also, when possible, collaborate with and build upon other federal clearinghouse efforts.

OPRE contracted with Mathematica, Hager Sharp, and MEF Associates to develop and administer the Pathways Clearinghouse.

View the glossary for more information about these and other terms used on this page.